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Election nearing: Both parties like their candidates

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By Todd Martin

With just 32 days left until Election Day, the political machine in Shelby County is starting to rev up.

Signs are going up. More hands are being shaken. Candidates are showing up everywhere. And issues and arguments are being refined.

And though candidates and their parties may not see eye-to-eye on many of those issues, they do agree on one thing: The economy and its future is key.

"First and foremost we need to improve the situation for job development and create jobs to replace those lost in the recession," said Fielding Ballard, the Shelby County Democratic Party chair.

Added Jennifer Decker, the Shelby County Republican chair: "Families are struggling to meet their financial obligations, while government entities are continuing to tax and spend. Businesses are afraid to expand because they are unsure of what new taxes and regulations government will impose. All of these factors lead to increased uncertainty about the future and a rising unemployment rate."

But recognizing the economy as the main problem is where the two groups part ways.

"Republicans are focused on getting all forms of government under control," Decker said. "Our party platform calls for limiting the cost and reach of government, restoring and expanding individual liberty and removing obstacles to the creation and expansion of jobs in the private sector."

Decker says her party's conservative views will help turn the economy.

"We want to decrease the tax burden on the American people and reduce unnecessary governmental interference in our jobs and lives," she said. "As Ronald Reagan once noted, "Man is not free unless government is limited."

Ballard, however, points to a record of success.

"We are coming out of the recession; we never went into a second Great Depression, and both Democrats and Republicans should take great consolation in that," he said. "The Democratic administration was thoughtful, measured, deliberate, and most importantly, correct in the steps that were taken.

"However, this has turned out to be more of a jobless recovery than everyone would like, and now we must focus on getting out of the situation that the previous administration got us into, and that is, first and foremost, creating jobs."

Key races

Both Decker and Ballard say every race is important, but nationally the focus on Kentucky will key on the U.S. Senate race between upstart Republican Rand Paul and Democrat  Jack Conway. After the primaries, Paul held a big lead in polls, but Conway has pulled basically even in recent samplings.

Decker said Paul has at least one more stop scheduled for Shelby County, an Oct. 17 event at Undulata Farm, and she said she believes he will return on a statewide bus tour closer to the election.

Ballard said Conway is not currently planning to return to Shelby County, that he knows of.

Closer to home, the 20th District state Senate seat is up for grabs for the first time in more than a decade, because incumbent Gary Tapp (R-Shelbyville) is stepping down.

Republican Paul Hornback and Democrat David Eaton are vying for the spot.

"It is also extremely important to elect Paul Hornback to the Kentucky State Senate," Decker said. "Our state economy is in trouble, and we need responsible people who have real-life business experience to help formulate common-sense solutions to our fiscal problems."

Decker applauded Tapp for his time in office and noted that Hornback is a natural fit behind him.

"We need to send someone who shares his conservative values and experience in the private sector to replace him in Frankfort," she said.

Other races

Ballard also mentioned the importance of the state Senate race, but he was quick to point out several other races the Democrats are keeping their eyes on.

"The U.S. Senate race, the state senate race, the Shelby Circuit Clerk's race and the two county magistrate races are very important," he said. "We will focus on trying to ensure the voters know the real issues and the correct facts that are important to make the decision to vote Democratic."

Ballard said the success of the party in the past should help.

"It was Democratic leadership that brought Shelbyvillians the courthouse annex, the Stratton Community Center, the emergency services complex, the new jail, the recycling center and the Family Activity Center," he said. "Sometimes we just don't toot our own horns as much as we should, and it's important that people recognize what Democratic administrations have accomplished."

An eye on Nov. 2

With just more than a month to go, both party leaders see a bright future coming.

"Because voters are experiencing the devastating results of the liberal policies from the administrations in Washington and Frankfort, the Republican Party is set to win big locally, at the state level, and nationally," Decker said. "People feel strongly that all levels of government are unresponsive to their needs, and they are ready to replace liberal legislators with conservative candidates."

But Ballard says the Democrats should excel for those same reasons Decker likes her party's chances.

"I think the Democratic Party is poised to do well because citizens and voters are beginning to see that the Democratic Party and their candidates are the only party with real solutions and ideas to the problems that we face," he said. "We will not let the country backslide and return to the emotional decisions and half-baked conclusions that got us into this position in the first place.